10/22/2019

By Jeff Schar, Principal

Over the last several years at Sendero, I have been getting the same question from client executives: “How do you get such great people?”

This question never gets old, and it is quite flattering to know that our clients appreciate how our consultants deliver for them. However, this question is the catalyst for what many clients struggle with when high quality project delivery is necessary–they don’t have the right people to execute their projects. I can hear my clients already saying, “How dare you tell me I don’t have the right people…. I love my people.” Hold on a minute, I’m not calling your baby ugly. Let me explain.

When I published my last vlog on Demand Management, the focus was on the process–The Power of Demand Management. As discussed, developing a Demand Management approach will enable a more seamless process to effectively execute projects. However, what I have found in my experience of establishing project governance is this—a well-developed process is great, but it does you no good unless you have the right people to successfully execute it.

So, how do you attract, grow, and retain those people?

A well-developed process is great, but it does you no good unless you have the right people to successfully execute it.

Feed the Hungry

Too many Directors and Managers are looking for resumes of the perfect project lead or manager. I call this searching for unicorns. Why not take a chance on a less experienced but “hungrier” employee looking for challenging work and ready to roll-up their sleeves and dive in at all costs to deliver? Sure, there is risk associated with this—but this can be mitigated with security coupled with allowing them to struggle at times to enable their growth and keep them around longer.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Setting clear expectations and a path for professional growth is critical. Let’s be honest, leading the same types of projects year after year gets old fast and creates work without meaning, which can lead to a “paper pusher” mentality. Develop a growth plan where individuals can learn foundational skills—such as business analysis, organizational change management, and project management—one brick at a time. This continued education will keep them engaged and strengthen their overall project acumen.

Shoot Straight

The power of honest, helpful conversations can go a long way when growing and retaining talent. Many of us find it easy to get lost in our work and forget the people side of managing and leading our teams to be effective. Hold yourself accountable when timely feedback is necessary and recognize that being honest and empathetic is effective and required for your employees’ growth and development. Eliminating feedback avoidance and balancing “touchy-feely” versus tough conversations will provide the critical experiences necessary to help make this happen.

Show Some LUV

Employees get bored and employees new to the workforce need motivation to see the forest through the trees. Adopt components of the Southwest Airlines Emerging Leader Job Rotational Program by periodically rotating your team members across unfamiliar jobs and business areas to deliver projects. This quickly builds diverse company knowledge, enables a more consistent delivery process, and establishes more credibility across the organization.

Progress Your Team (or Bye Felicia)

Develop progression plans and performance measures to achieve the next level of career growth for your employees. For example, start out with your junior team members acting as project coordinators. Then, progress them to project managers, senior project managers, program managers, and eventual portfolio managers. Having a clear plan and vision for the future of each employee will make it much easier to keep them longer term. Not having one will lead to departures and unfinished initiatives.


Not all of these suggestions are one size fits all, but give a couple a try and watch how your organization will transform with great people and a talent-rich pipeline to drive your projects to successful outcomes.

So there go, you now have the process and the great people to deliver results – one beautiful baby!

The power of honest, helpful conversations can go a long way when growing and retaining talent.

Jeff Schar

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